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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: March 2, 2018.

“We carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness.” says R.J. Palacio, the author of New York Times bestseller Wonder on which the movie by the same title is based. The high-grossing family film’Wonder’ is now available on DVD!  One of the highest-grossing family films of all time, the film will now be available for use in homes, schools, civic organizations, as well as in churches, and more.

The book and Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts’ new life-changing movie ‘Wonder’ tell the inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman. Born with facial differences that have initially prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade.

The movie follows Auggie’s first year in school from his perspective and that of those around him.  While it discourages bullying, the movie encourages seeing others beyond external appearances, having quality friendships, and showing compassion. It is a family movie but there is some brief, mostly light foul language.

Director Stephen Chbosky directed blockbuster 'Wonder'. family film 'Wonder' among top-grossing

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 08: Director Stephen Chbosky attends the official party for the cast of “Perks of Being a Wallflower” hosted by vitaminwater during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images For Vitaminwater)

As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to find their own compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey unites them all and proves you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

Wonder is a delightful, entertaining, uplifting movie that is suitable for older children through adults.  Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts stars as Auggie’s mother, Oscar nominee Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris) as Auggie’s father, Izabela Vidovic (Homeland) as Auggie’s sister Via, Emmy winner Mandy Patinkin as Auggie’s school principal, and award-winning actor Jacob Tremblay (The Book of Henry) as AuggieThis star-studded cast gives endearing performances.

Academy-Award winning actress Julia Roberts stars as Jacob Tremblay's mother in 'Wonder'. family film 'Wonder' among top-grossing

Academy-Award winning actress Julia Roberts stars as Jacob Tremblay’s mother in ‘Wonder’. Photo Courtesy Lionsgate


Director Stephen Chbosky is a screenwriter and film director known for writing the screenplay for Disney’s 2017 live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.   Sonoma Christian Home had an insightful interview with Stephen, who wants to be part of the solution for our culture’s problems. SCH Editor at Large Dr. Diane Howard reports.

SCH: Why has this movie been so successful?

SC: It is unapologetically pro-family, pro-child, pro-kindness in a world rife with division.

SCH: Why is it resonating with audiences?

SC: It entertains and provides examples without being preachy. It appeals to the emotions as it presents a message. It has something in it for everyone in the whole family.

SCH: What does the movie teach about the value of people with disabilities?

SC: At a basic level people with disabilities are the same as the rest of us. They deserve the same as all of us. 

SCH: What does Wonder teach about the value of families?

SC: If kids have a good support system at home, they can achieve anything.

SCH: What are some of the universal values in this movie?

SC: Be kind. Take time to imagine what others are going through. You can’t hate someone up close.

SCH: What does Wonder teach about the needs of each child?  

SC: Every child needs attention. They each need to be seen for who they are.

SCH: How does this movie inspire hope?

SC: It shows how individuals can grow, experience dreams coming true, and find kindness.

'Wonder' started the movement "ChooseKind"

‘Wonder’ started the movement “ChooseKind”. Photo Courtesy Lionsgate

SCH: How does this movie provide role models?

SC: It show the immediate effects of good and bad behaviors.

SCH: How did directing this movie affect or change you?

SC: It made a difference as I was involved for two years with this movie about kindness. I insisted on kindness and respect on the set.

SCH: How is this movie redemptive?

SC: There is no bad guy at the end.

See also the delightful, inspiring, insightful interview with Wonder producer Todd Lieberman that Dr. Diane Howard had for Sonoma Christian Home. Todd told Dr. Howard that people who have seen the film have reacted by becoming involved with the Choose Kind Movement. They want to do something kind, nice. For example, kindness is multiplied as students are nice to teachers and then teachers are nice. People want to know that there is kindness in humanity and that there is friendliness rather than hostility is our world. Todd told how it is good to see that the film business can be well-meaning.  He said that eight million copies of this book have been sold, showing that people want stories and books like this.

Palacio wrote Wonder (which means awe, admiration, wonderment, fascination, surprise…), after an incident where she and her three-year-old son were waiting in line to buy ice cream. Her son noticed a girl with facial birth deformities. Because she feared he would react badly, Palacio attempted to remove her son from the situation so as not to upset the girl or her family but ended up worsening the situation. Then back in the car, the Natalie Merchant’s song “Wonder” on the radio made her realize that the incident could teach society a valuable lesson. Palacio was inspired by Merchant’s lyrics and she began writing her book Wonder.  Many saw this event as an act of God.

The book Wonder is required reading in many schools. Families are reading it together and having layered discussions about it. The book and movie are encouraging empathy for everyone’s special needs.

The story of a 10-year-old boy with facial differences provides a multifaceted look at what it means to be human in the film adaptation of R.J. Palacio’s bestseller Wonder. Golden Globe nominee Jacob Tremblay (Room) performs the one-of-a-kind role of Auggie Pullman, whose birth defects and multiple surgeries have kept him out of school until the fifth grade.

Jacob Tremblay, Luke Wilson, Julia Roberts, and Izabela Vidovic star as a family in 'Wonder'. family film 'Wonder' among top-grossing

Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson, Julia Roberts, and Izabela Vidovic star as a family in ‘Wonder’. Photo Courtesy Lionsgate

Thrust into the brave new world of the 5th grade, Auggie steps into an unexpected journey. All Auggie wants is to be an ordinary kid, but his sister keeps telling him, you can’t be ordinary when you were born to stand out. He first has solace inside a space helmet, but now he must face a whole universe of gawking kids who don’t yet know how to face him back.  Auggie’s fifth grade year is funny, tough and beautiful. Auggie and all around him are transformed by friendship, courage and the everyday choice to be kind to everyone in your path.

When Auggie’s parents enroll him in the 5th grade at Beecher Prep, it’s a new realm of science labs and classrooms; gossip, bullies and threats, but also of achievement and friends. Auggie’s schoolmates are multi-faceted characters, each with a unique point of view They don’t have the benefit of knowing Auggie as his family does. They have to figure him out in their own ways. They do so through the prisms of their own unique experiences and they each positively develop as a result.

The book has sparked international anti-bullying campaigns. There are many ways that people are bullied, and it is much too common and destructive today in it many forms.  Palacio now speaks with kids around the country about bullying as part of the Choose Kind movement, which started in response to the book. Thousands have signed her Choose Kind pledge. She says it helps to remind kids that the attitude they have now towards others will affect them their whole lives.

'Wonder' is one of the highest-grossing family films. family film 'Wonder' among top-grossing

‘Wonder’ is one of the highest-grossing family films. Photo Courtesy Lionsgate


She says, “When I talk with kids, we talk about how you would want to be remembered 80 years from now. Do you want to be remembered for moments of unkindness? Or do you want to be remembered for being the person who was brave enough to go over to the new kid in class and make friends? That’s when kids start to get it, when they start to see what they do even in a small way really, really matters for a long time.”

However, Palacio says that much as her book is anti-bullying, that alone is not enough. She hopes the book and now the movie will inspire everyone to be proactive and to take the one extra step to give someone a boost or a helping hand. “Sometimes it doesn’t take much at all to make a huge impact,” she points out. “The best part about small acts is that you never know when you might actually be saving someone’s life.” Palacio notes that the operative word in the Choose Kind movement is “choose”. She concludes: ““You can’t really mandate kindness. What you can do is inspire people to see and feel what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes.”


Follow the movie Wonder on Facebook,  Twitter, and Instagram


Wonder by Natalie Merchant

Doctors have come from distant cities, just to see me
Stand over my bed, disbelieving what they’re seeing

They say I must be one of the wonders
Of God’s own creation
And as far as they see, they can offer
No explanation

Newspapers ask intimate questions, want confessions
They reach into my head to steal, the glory of my story

They say I must be one of the wonders
Of God’s own creation
And as far as they see, they can offer
No explanation

Ooo, I believe, fate, fate smiled
And destiny laughed as she came to my cradle
Know this child will be able
Laughed as my body she lifted
Know this child will be gifted
With love, with patience, and with faith
She’ll make her way, she’ll make her way

People see me I’m a challenge to your balance …




To learn more about this author, please visit Dr. Diane Howard

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